Tag Archives: Time Perspective

Power Increases Responsibility, Generosity toward Future Generations

Leigh Plunkett Tost

Leigh Plunkett Tost

Power can increase future perspective, feelings of social responsibility, and intergenerational generosity toward others, according to University of Michigan’s Leigh Plunkett Tost, Kimberly A. Wade-Benzoni of Duke University, and University of Idaho’s Hana Huang Johnson.

Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg

Priscilla Chan, Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg and Pricilla Chan’s sizeable gift of Facebook stock on the occasion of their daughter’s birth is a recent example.

Katherine DeCelles

Katherine DeCelles

This finding contrasts previous reports that power tends to cause people to act in more self-interested ways with peers, particularly “in the presence of a weak moral identity,” according to University of Toronto’s Katherine DeCelles, D. Scott DeRue of University of Michigan, Harvard’s Joshua Margolis, and Tara L. Ceranic of University of San Diego.

Kimberly Wade-Benzoni

Kimberly Wade-Benzoni

Focusing on previous power experiences also was linked with a longer-term time perspective among more than 110 participants who wrote about a time they experienced power over others.
Volunteers in studies by Tost’s group reported greater willingness to allocate charitable donations to a cause with long-term benefits than one addressing an immediate need, compared with a matched group that didn’t write about a previous power experience.

Hana Huang Johnson

Hana Huang Johnson

In another task, more than 230 volunteers also wrote a power prime, then chose between allocating a $1,000 bonus to themselves or another participant now or a larger amount in the future.
Participants who recalled a power experience were more likely to allocate a greater future bonus to themselves and someone else.

Scott DeRue

Scott DeRue

Tost’s team suggested that people with intergenerational power typically feel responsible for ensuring others’ long-term interests, manifested in generous behavior to younger generations.
DeCelles’ findings suggest that moral identity may interact with intergenerational relations to influence people to act with less self-interest and greater altruism.

Joshua Margolis

Joshua Margolis

In additional studies, more than 160 participants were randomly assigned to influence tasks that other group members performed.
The controlling participants reported greater willingness to allocate more future lottery winnings to another group member compare with volunteers who did not control others’ assignments.

Sonya Lyubomirsky

Sonya Lyubomirsky

Many of these paradoxes of generosity and altruism are investigated through University of Notre Dame’s Science of Generosity initiative.
One promising project is led by University of California, Riverside’s Sonya Lyubomirsky, who explored “the how” and “myths” of happiness.

She currently investigates “ripple” and contagion effects of generosity propagation in work settings, and argues that performing generous acts makes the giver, receiver, connector, and observer happier.
In addition, she posits that workplace generosity promotes a positive workplace climate.

Tara Ceranic

Tara Ceranic

Feelings of power seem to invoke a sense of responsibility to ensure and enable others’ interests.
This insight can benefit non-profit organizations seeking increased donations by highlighting that those with decision-making authority have the power to shape the performance and outcomes of the generations to come.

-*To what extent do those with organizational power demonstrate a longer time perspective and willingness to enable the next generation’s well-being?

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Previous blog posts have outlined the varied positive effects of focusing on previous power experiences, and on time perspective’s relationship with investment choices.

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Change Future Time Perspective to Reduce Procrastination

Neil Lewis

Neil Lewis

Future events seemed more “proximal” or occurring sooner when volunteers considered in days rather than months or years.

This shift in perspective made the Future Self and the future event seem more tangible and connected to the Present Self, enabling participants to begin progress toward distant goals, according to University of Michigan’s Neil Lewis and Daphna Oyserman of the University of Southern California.

Daphna Oyserman

Daphna Oyserman

Many people know the dilemma between purchasing expensive clothes now instead of putting the money into retirement savings or between enjoying dessert now when “swimsuit season” is just weeks away.
This pull between current rewards and costs vs future events and required efforts was labeled temporal discounting by Stanford’s Kacey Ballard and Brian Knutson.

Kacey Ballard

Kacey Ballard

People may not act when considering future events like retirement because they focus more on whether to take action in the present.
In contrast, people tend to concentrate how to act when faced with imminent situations requiring attention, according to temporal construal theory, described by NYU’s Yaacov Trope and Nira Liberman.

Yaacov Trope

Yaacov Trope

Further, people may not act when an anticipated Future Self seems incongruous or disconnected with the Present Self, found Williams College’s Kris Kirby with Nancy Petry of University of Vermont and Virginia Tech’s Warren Bickel.

Nancy Petry

Nancy Petry

When volunteers have begun preparing for the future, such as a work presentation, saving for a home, retirement, or children’s education, they saw metrics implying when a future event will occur.

More than 160 volunteers considered six scenarios — three with time metrics and three without.
For the time-metric situations, participants imagined that they were shopping, studying, or carrying out other tasks in preparation for future events — a birthday party, presentation, wedding, exam — and were asked to report how long it would be until those events occurred.

Warren Bickel

Warren Bickel

When participants considered time in the smaller of two possible units, the event seemed closer – an average of 29.7 days sooner when considered in days instead of months and an average of 8.7 months sooner when considered in months instead of years.

In other Lewis and Oyserman studies, more than 1100 participants in the U.S. indicated when they should start saving for a future scenario such as a child’s college education, measured either as 18 years or 6,570 days.

Nira Liberman

Nira Liberman

People who realized that this event would arrive within days planned to start saving four times sooner than those who thought that educational expenditures were years away, even when controlling for income, age, and self-control.

In contrast, when participants hadn’t begun preparing for an expected future event, they considered metrics as implying when they should start preparing.

This difference in time perspective can affect whether people achieve future goals that require consistent, long-term investments of time, effort, and money.
In fact, Oyserman argues that changing time perspective is  “… a new way to think about reaching goals that does not require willpower and is not about having character or caring.

Brian Knutson

Brian Knutson

Since the majority of people do not save save sufficient financial resources for required future expenditures, changing time metrics to more granular measures can make both future goals and one’s Future Self more aligned with the Present Self.

-*How do you align Future Self with Present Self when working toward future goals?

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Biased Time Perception – Mind Time, Clock Time, and Einstein

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Eminent physicist and everyone’s favorite genius, Albert Einstein, suggested that most people have a biased perception of time: “The distinction between past, present and future is an illusion, although a persistent one.”

Molly Harrower

Molly Harrower

More than half a century after Einstein’s groundbreaking theories of relativity a pioneering psychologist   Rorschach expert Molly Harrower illustrated the emotional component of time perception in a poem she wrote during a time of personal transition and loss:

Molly Harrower-Therapy of poetryAccording to Einstein,
The faster we travel
The slower time passes
But the loneliness factor
Is constant

Wilhelm Wundt

Wilhelm Wundt

By the time that Harrower published her The Therapy of Poetry in 1972, experimental psychologists from Wilhelm Wundt to Paul Fraisse and Kurt Lewin measured the psychophysics of time perceptions.

Philip Zimbardo

Philip Zimbardo

Stanford’s Philip Zimbardo with John Boyd extended this work to demonstrate how time perspective – whether past, present or future and tinged with negative or positive emotion – is related to differences in school completion, health behaviors including smoking, drinking, drug use, contraception and driving, coping with homelessness and job search.

John Boyd

John Boyd

Zimbardo became well-known following the disturbing results of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and later began investigating subjective Time Perspective (TP) using a self-report inventory

They identified six time perspectives:

  • Positive Past
  • Negative Past
  • Hedonistic Present
  • Fatalist Present
  • Future
  • Transcendental Future

Philip Zimbardo - Ideal Time PerspectiveZimbardo and Boyd suggested an optimal orientation to time includes a calibrated perspective across the six time orientations.

Citing his own childhood in the South Bronx, Zimbardo argued that schools convert Present Hedonists into Future-oriented time perceivers, and increase opportunities for economic advancement.

Robert Levine

Robert Levine

Robert Levine of California State University, Fresno, differentiated among measured time and subjective time by defining:

  • Clock time
  • Event time
  • Natural time

He asked how people use time in different regions, and the impact of these choices on relationships and health.
Like Zimbardo and Boyd, he advocates developing the ability to move across time orientations and time-related behaviors.

Claudia Hammond

Claudia Hammond

Some of these time perspectives can include subjective biases, including an “elastic” experience of time – sometimes shorter or longer than clock time, according to the BBC’s Claudia Hammond.

She identified several biases in time perception, such as overestimating elapsed time during a frightening experience and shortening of perceived time during a pleasant experience or as one ages.

Douwe Draaisma

Douwe Draaisma

One explanation for the feeling like time accelerates as one gets older is the “proportionality theory“, according to University of Groningen’s Douwe Draaisma.

In this view, a year – 365 days most years – can feel brief when one is 40 years old and has already lived almost 14,600 days.
The same year might feel longer to an 8 year old who had lived almost 2920 days, because it is a larger proportion of experienced time.

Vincent Prohaska

Vincent Prohaska

Another time perception bias is “forward telescoping,” the feeling that past events occurred more recently than they actually did, according to Lehman College’s Vincent Prohaska with colleagues Norman Brown and Robert Belli.
Reverse telescoping” refers to past events of the same elapsed time that seem to have taken place even longer ago.

The Holiday Paradox is another time perception anomaly in which time away from one’s usual routine feeling like it passed both quickly and occurred over a long period of time, perhaps due to the concentration of new experiences and the need to concentrate on processing novel information.

Similarly, “Reminiscence Bump” enables many people to recall experiences between 15 and 25, including prominent news events and cultural trends including music, attire, interests.

University of Chicago’s Norman Bradburn suggested that these distortions may occur because many experiences during memorable or “critical” developmental periods are usually novel, distinctive, personally-involving, and emotionally-tinged.

Because these events were memorable, they may seem to have occurred more recently because people often associate clearer memories with more recent occurrences.
This “inner chronometry” of time tracking can be distorted by emotions, attention, expectations, task demands, and even ambient temperature, according to “the Clarity Hypothesis” to explain these perceptual biases.

-*How do you mitigate time biases?
-*How have you seen these time biases affect and relate to other areas of life?

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